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Buffalo Bills All-Drought team: Edge rusher

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Who was the best pass rusher from Buffalo’s playoff drought?

The Buffalo Bills have seen some outstanding talents rush the passer over the years, and even in the playoff drought there were some incredible talents at edge rusher. There were also some guys who started a long time for the team. Here are the most notable DE/OLB- types from Buffalo’s drought era:

Aaron Schobel

Schobel joined the Bills very early in the drought, as a second round pick out of TCU in the 2001 draft. He immediately became a starter, and nabbed 6.5 sacks in his rookie season. From there, he turned into one of the most reliable pass rushers in Bills history. He averaged ten sacks, three forced fumbles, and four passes defended over the next six seasons. In 2006 and 2007, Schobel was selected to the Pro Bowl.

As the Bills overhauled their front office and coaching staff, switching to a 3-4 in 2010, Schobel decided to retire. While the end of his Bills career was less than ideal, he finished second in franchise history in sacks, third in forced fumbles, and ninth in passes defended (the top eight players were defensive backs).

Chris Kelsay

I had to make sure this fan-favorite landed on the poll.

Kelsay joined the Bills in 2003 as a second round pick from Nebraska, and became a starter in 2004. He would play in 147 games and start 120 games in his ten-year career, all of it with the Bills. He was the definition of average as a starter, never notching more than 5.5 sacks in a season. He finished his career with 32.5, which ranked 11th in franchise history. He wasn’t an excellent player, but the Bills only had so many great edge rushers during the playoff drought, and at least he’s no Ryan Denney.

Mario Williams

Williams was the most ballyhooed signing in Buffalo Bills history, an immensely talented prospect signed to a $100 million contract. He led the team in sacks for all four of his seasons in Buffalo, and despite only starting 45 games for the Bills, he ranks sixth in franchise history with 43 sacks. In year four, Williams played much worse in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense, and showed a poor attitude that led the Bills to cut him ahead of 2016. Williams played one more season in Miami after leaving the Bills. But while he was playing in an attacking defense like Mike Pettine’s or Jim Schwartz’s, he lived up to his elite billing. In 2013 and 2014, he made the Pro Bowl, and he was voted first-team All-Pro in 2014.

Jerry Hughes

In 2010 and 2011, the Bills struggled to generate a pass rush, with only 27 and 29 sacks, respectively. Adding Mario Williams and Mark Anderson (remember that guy?) in 2012 was supposed to fix the issue, but Anderson washed out and incompetent defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt’s scheme was a failure. During the 2013 offseason, the Bills traded for Hughes, a first-round pick from the Colts who had only started seven games and notched five sacks at that point in his career.

Hughes thrived with the advent of the new attacking schemes when he joined Buffalo, with 20 sacks in his first two seasons. He earned a healthy contract extension, but his next three seasons were less effective, first as he struggled with Ryan’s defense, then as he struggled with the burden of being the primary pass rusher on the roster. In five seasons leading up to the end of the playoff drought, Hughes played in 80 games, collecting 35 sacks and nine forced fumbles.

Voting time! Who was the best edge rusher of the Buffalo Bills playoff drought? We’ll still have room for one more as one of our flex options, so the runners-up will return for a future poll. Next time, we’ll look at Buffalo’s inside linebackers.


Who was the best edge rusher of the Buffalo Bills playoff drought?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Aaron Schobel
    (963 votes)
  • 4%
    Chris Kelsay
    (67 votes)
  • 22%
    Mario Williams
    (331 votes)
  • 7%
    Jerry Hughes
    (111 votes)
1472 votes total Vote Now